Like many everyday activities haircuts have become a challenge.
Back home I would get my hair cut once a month, so when I arrived in April I began searching for a new place. I asked several team members where they get their hair cut or where their wives go. Well as fate would have it only one wife has short hair and she didn’t have any recommendations. Several of the guys in the office suggested I use the place in the mall and since they were happy with it, I thought I would look into it. I went to the mall after work one Friday to check out the salon. The salon is very hi-tech looking and the entire staff (all 4 of them) had trendy cuts so I ventured in to get my hair cut. The stylist asked me what I wanted, so we communicated (I thought) I asked for the same cut just a little shorter, needed it to cover part of my ears, and so on. What I walked out with was an uneven disaster. It was so bad, even the guys at work couldn’t lie about it. One asked if I would like him to go back and tell the guy what a bad job he did and have him fix it. Thanks, but no thanks, I’m not that brave, I may have traveled half way around the world to work, but I’m not brave enough to go back to a bad stylist.
While trying to figure out what to do with my hair, I heard a voice I thought I had outgrown, I could hear my mom saying ‘Pull your hair off your face.’ And even as a grown up I still do what mom says (even if it’s just a voice in my head). Off to the store I went to buy hair clips. Since there isn’t much of a selection for women’s clips here, my choices were either the plain brown or the glittery, diamond studs in the shape of a flower. I have to be honest, I was tempted to buy the diamonds. I mean back home diamonds cost more than $1.85 and this was a HUGE flower. What an amazing deal! But my practical side won this battle and I bought the brown set, plus I didn’t want anyone being jealous of my diamond clips. The mom voice in my head was finally happy, but the face in the mirror wasn’t. This country is killing my vanity.
Fast forward one month and I need to find someone to fix this disaster. I checked with a few ladies in the office hoping to find a better suggestion. Jen (a coworker) offered to set up an appointment at the place where she gets her hair washed. When we showed up at her unsalon looking salon I fell into a panic, this isn’t what I had in mind at all. I grabbed Jen arm, ‘are you sure Jen, I mean have you personally had your hair cut here?’ My confidences hit rock bottom. I felt I was committed so I walked in, or maybe Jen dragged me, I just remember whining A LOT and Jen laughing at me, ‘What’s the worst that can happen’, I tried to smile and said (or maybe whined) I may have to shave my head after this haircut. Jen told me I couldn’t shave my head, that is considered a protest and that wouldn’t be good. OK a bad haircut is ok, but shaving my head so I would look better, not OK (all these rules!). This time I was proactive and took a picture of what I hoped to copy. While waiting for my stylist to show up I noticed this little lady staring at me, a lot. She would say something in Chinese and stare at me, sweep up something and stare at me. I knew my cut was bad but she was making me feel very self-conscience. A few minutes later in walked the salon owner (bonus, she’s my stylist), she looked at my picture, said something to her team which got them laughing (confidence; zero) then she started cutting my hair. AMAZING, perfect, I can toss the clips, no hat needed, I can walk proud again.
Lesson learned, the gods laugh when you feel you have conquered your fears, and then they threw rocks at you. Five weeks later, I asked a coworker to call and set my next appointment (I haven’t learned Malaya yet). I also asked them to confirm if I needed to return with my picture. No they remembered me, and no picture necessary. Another lesson learned, ALWAYS take your picture with you. I walked into the salon and I was greeted with great fanfare, except for the old lady, she stared for a moment, and then went back to her TV. I took a seat in the very unsalon like chair and waited for the owner to come in. After a few minutes the owner came in and she and her friends began chatting and laughing about me I’m sure (yes, I’m becoming a bit paranoid). The clipping began and I don’t know what happened, I guess she needed the picture, because I end up with a super short, really short, haircut. I smiled, what else could I do? The only thing I can say is it will grow, eventually. While paying for the little hair I had left on my head I found out the little old lady is actually the owner’s mom. The mom wanted me to know she was 70 I smiled and told her my age, well actually, I used a calculator and punched in my age. She appeared surprised, but I hope in a better way than I was, I would have easily guessed her for 80+.
When I got home I did a Google search on how to deal with a bad cut, one site suggested going back and tell them you’re unhappy. That might work if you speak the same language, probably not going to work. Another suggestion look in the mirror, is it really that bad? Well, it’s even, just super short. And the last suggestion was, take a deep breath and deal with it, your hair will grow. So much for Google offering me a solution.
The next morning at work I endured all the ‘wow, got them all cut, short’ and, ‘you want hair like the guys, ah’ comments. One of the drivers came in and said, ‘oh, you didn’t take your picture?’ He came back a few hours later with a business card from a different salon and said, try this place next time; the stylist has an American name. Bless his heart. I don’t know if I’m willing to try again. I’ll be traveling back to the USA for my home leave in October, I may just wait and get on the 6 month hair cut cycle.
Experiencing life outside your comfort zone is good, it helps you discover new and exciting things, but I’m starting to feel that haircuts in Mountasia isn’t something I’m going to enjoy.